A Summary of Your Rights Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act

What is the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA)?

The federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) promotes the accuracy, fairness, and privacy of information in the files of consumer reporting agencies. There are many types of consumer reporting agencies, including credit bureaus that gather and sell information about your creditworthiness to creditors, employers, landlords, and other businesses. The FCRA gives you specific rights, which are summarized below. You may have additional rights under state law.

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Summary of Your Rights Under FCRA

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You must be told if information in your file has been used against you.

Anyone who uses information from a consumer reporting agency to deny your application for credit, insurance, or employment – or take another adverse action against you – must tell you and give you the name, address, and phone number of the agency that provided the information.

You can find out what is in your file.

At any time, you may request and obtain your report from a consumer reporting agency. You will be asked to provide proper identification, which may include your Social Security number. In many cases the report will be free. You are entitled to free reports if a person has taken adverse action against you because of information in a report; if you are the victim of identify theft; if you are the victim of fraud; if you are on public assistance; or if you are unemployed but expect to apply for employment within 60 days. In addition, you are entitled to one free report every twelve months from each of the nationwide credit bureaus and from some specialized consumer reporting agencies. See www.ftc.gov/credit for details about how to obtain your free report.

You have a right to know your credit score.

Credit scores are numerical summaries of a consumer’s creditworthiness based on information from consumer reports. For a fee, you may get your credit score. For more information, click on www.ftc.gov/credit. In some mortgage transactions, you will get credit score information without charge.

You can dispute inaccurate information with the consumer reporting agency.

If you tell a consumer reporting agency that your file has inaccurate information, the agency must take certain steps to investigate unless your dispute is frivolous. For an explanation of dispute procedures, go to www.ftc.gov/credit.

Inaccurate information must be corrected or deleted.

A consumer reporting agency or furnisher must remove or correct information verified as inaccurate, usually within 30 days after you dispute it. However, a consumer reporting agency may continue to report negative data that it verifies as being accurate.

Outdated negative information may not be reported.

In most cases, a consumer reporting agency may not report negative information that is more than seven years old, or bankruptcies that are more than 10 years old.

Access to your file is limited.

A consumer reporting agency may provide information about you only to people with a valid need as determined by the FCRA -- usually to consider an application with a creditor, insurer, employer, landlord, or other business.

Your consent is required for reports that are provided to employers.

A consumer reporting agency may not give out information about you to your employer, or potential employer, without your written consent. Blanket consent may be given at the time of employment or later.

You may choose to remove your name from consumer reporting agency lists for unsolicited credit and insurance offers.

These offers must include a toll-free phone number you can call if you choose to take your name and address off lists in the future. You may opt-out at the major credit bureaus by calling 1-888-5-OPT-OUT (1-888-567-8688).

You may seek damages from violators.

If a consumer reporting agency, a user of consumer reports, or, in some cases, a furnisher of information to a consumer reporting agency violates the FCRA, you may sue them in state or federal court.

Identity theft victims and active duty military personnel have additional rights.

Victims of identity theft have new rights under the FCRA. Active-duty military personnel who are away from their regular duty station may file “active duty” alerts to help prevent identity theft. For more information, visit www.ftc.gov/credit.